Cowboy Football Report

With fall break going on the Oklahoma State coaching staff has juggled the practice schedule to give players a little extra time during the day. Some of the players are meeting with tutors to play some catch up academically, while others are just trying to get some rest. It has been a long grind with the squad going straight through since reporting for practice the first of August.

Aches and pains mount and you have some players like defensive tackles Maurice Cummings and Jeray Chatham that are playing as many as 60 plays a game at a high impact position that takes a lot out of you. You can see where the offensive line as a whole has lost weight. The season wears players down and the open week, which will be welcome, doesn't come until after the homecoming game with Kansas State.

Practice Tuesday ran two hours, 20 minutes with the game plan being installed on both sides of the ball for the Nebraska game. Extra time was taken at the beginning to work on punt returns and trying to stimulate an area that has been a weapon for the Cowboys but struggled some against Texas A&M. You could see some new faces in the return game and there will be additional work on kickoff return, which has really struggled, during Wednesday's practice.

Zac Robinson practiced at full speed and showed no signs of the big hit that took him out of the game early in the fourth quarter on Saturday at Texas A&M. Robinson is a tough kid and a fierce competitor, so it really isn't that much of a shock to see him bounce back.

Wednesday will be another heavy work day on the Nebraska game plan and then the Cowboys will polish it up Thursday before a scheduled 1 p.m. departure Friday from Stillwater Airport for Lincoln. The team will actually stay in Omaha overnight and bus into Lincoln early Saturday for the 11:37 a.m. kickoff.

Game Day Forecast
For the first time this season it should feel like Fall when the Cowboys and Huskers kickoff Saturday at Memorial Stadium. For kickoff, skies are expected to be partly cloudy with a temperature of 59 degrees. The expected high on Saturday in Lincoln is 66 with a morning low of 52 degrees. There is a chance of scattered storms, 30 percent. The winds are expected to be moderate.

Second Week In A Row To Play A Troubled Program
Last week it was Texas A&M head coach Dennis Franchione and his secret newsletter that had Texas Aggie fans in an uproar and was causing Franchione's office chair to heat up. Now it's Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan. His sin is worse in the eyes of Husker fans, a blowout loss to USC at home earlier this season, a close call against Ball State, and last Saturday's 41-6 loss on the road to Missouri.

"As we get going, I think it's important that you understand that no one, and I mean no one, wants to win more than I do," said Callahan at his weekly Tuesday news conference. "I think it's really important that we as a staff, team and program hate to lose. It's important to know that it destroys us to go through what we did last week. We're disappointed, but nonetheless, we have to move on. We have a game in four days. We have to move on to Oklahoma State and really focus our concentration and effort toward our preparedness for this opponent This is a good team coming into town."

When asked about his opening statement he went on to elaborate. "We want to win," Callahan added. "We feel an obligation to this state. When we lose, the fans expect so much from us and we feel like we let them down. We want our fans to understand what we're going through.

"We hurt as a football team and it hurts us greatly when we lose in the fashion that we did (Saturday) night. I just want that to be said, so that people understand that there is passion in this program. There is conviction and belief in what we're doing. There's a belief in what this program stands for. That's why I came here. I love this place. I love our team. I love the opportunity to coach here and what that's all about.

"It's important to understand that this team is doing everything they can to get themselves right, whether it's in the meeting room or the practice field, this team is trying to the best of their abilities to improve what's wrong. We have issues. There's no question about that. We're working hard to correct it. The only way you can get it done is to have coaches and players come together on the field and on gameday."

Nebraska has the reputation for having the greatest and most courteous fans in all of college football, but that courtesy is extended to their own and to the opposition only when consecutive bowl seasons, record winning streaks, and championship contending teams are around. These Husker fans have become surly, and Callahan and the Nebraska players are hearing about it.

"I think (it's) more field issues in terms of offense and defense consistency issues, execution issues," answered Callahan when asked what the Huskers biggest problem was. "Those are the biggest things surrounding us right now. The ability to perform at a higher level, that's a huge issue for us right now. To find that level in our game, to reach it and to grasp it and to go after it is the most important aspect that we're focused on right now."

"You cannot get caught up in external factors," said quarterback Sam Keller. "We are all one family, coaches and players a like. Everybody in the program. We have the coaches back. I have every single coaches back until this thing is over and done with. I do not like to see them get roasted. I am going to do everything I can to make sure that does not happen. I am going to do everything I can for my teammates, too and for this whole entire team.

"When I touch the ball every play, I hold a lot of people's fortunes. I hold that very dear to heart. I want to be the guy that makes things happen. That is why I was so frustrated after the game, because I did not feel like I was the guy that was facilitating big plays like I normally am. I took that to heart, and I take to heart anything that happens to our coaches and our players. I want to be the guy that makes it all right."

That is what Oklahoma State will be dealing with on Saturday, a team under the gun to win. Of course, after last Saturday's lost opportunity against Franchione and his secret newsletter the Cowboys themselves are charged with coming home with a win, or being up against the wall in trying to hit their goal of post-season play. Two teams desperate for a win meet Saturday in Lincoln.

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